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Full text of "Poland Russia and Great Britain 1941-1945"

"ponsible for their welfare. As the Polish Government was not able to
produce enough stocks of food or pay c cash down ' immediately for any
supplies. Commissar Vyshinsky declared that " the war needs of the
Soviet Union made any loan to the Poles out of question," He put
forward the suggestion that the Poles should appeal to Britain and America
for the money " from social sources." Finally, after Sikorski's visit to
Moscow, the Soviet Government on December 31, 1941, granted the
Polish Government a loan of one hundred million roubles, repayable at
the gold dollar rate, i.e., forty million dollars, and equivalent to four
million dollars in its real value in Russia at the time. Thus, from the
first, every pound of bread for those Polish citizens who had been forcibly
brought to Russia, whose property had been confiscated by the Soviet
authorities, was reckoned in terms of money and as Poland's debt.
Relief was distributed through the intermediary of the Embassy's
delegates and the local representatives ; great difficulties had to be faced,
however, before the goods could reach their destination. In some cases,
'by no means isolated ones, railway tracks loaded with relief parcels
j travelled for three months before they arrived at the office of a delegate
lor local representative. But here tie difficulty did not end. In the
/remoter regions, local representatives had to hire all kinds of the most
^primitive type of transport such as donkeys, oxen, camels, to get the goods
^frorn the railway station to the place of distribution. Goods had often
^to be taken across thousands of miles of frozen river, waste land and
^steppes. The following letter from a local representative in Siberia
^gives some illustration of these obstacles :ó
j "... I must explain, that the enormous distances, the primitive tracks
Across the tayga, the absence of transport, the irregular flow of supplies . . .
^hamper the work of the local representative and force him to cover distances
s^of 100 miles at a time by foot and without food.
^ cc When transporting a load of relief goods in a river barge recently, the
temperature suddenly fell and we found ourselves surrounded by drifting
ice. This grew so thick that very soon we were unable to proceedóthere
were six of usówe found ourselves imprisoned for three days and two
nights in the middle of the river with the temperature at 40 degrees F*
below zero. Prisoners from a local camp finally succeeded in rescuing us
and by a miracle we managed to sail to the nearest town. "We then decided
to take no more risks and to transport the goods, little by little, in horse
carts. These are the conditions under which we work in this district . . ,**
As a result of lengthy negotiations, the Narkomindel finally agreed, on
December 23, 1941, to the establishment of Polish orphanages and
kindergartens, and on February 12, 1942, to grant these institutions
special food quotas. The task of organising these establishments was
not, however., an easy one: the local authorities were often far from
helpful and sometimes lacked the necessary supplies for the food quotas;
moreover, it was no easy matter to find suitable premises.
On March I, 1943, there were 807 relief institutions of all typesó83
prphanages, 286 kindergartens and schools (43 per cent Jewish